written by Eric Martin
So far Winter Tour had been a great one. The guys dropped the “Cabin Fever” moniker for whatever reason this year, and they seemed refreshed and ready to go, as was I, after another great NYE run in Boulder. I had a blast again, but there’s nothing like seeing the boys all over my region: the southeast. After two amazing nights in Asheville, I headed home to Atlanta to cap the weekend with what I have always considered one of the best Yonder shows of the year. You see folks; I go to church on a Saturday, once a year, and it’s called Yonder at the Tabernacle. At no other show do I see as many friends and family, old and new, as I do at my hometown venue.
In all of Eric's Yonderings and excitement about his hometown show, he missed a really fun, high-energy set from Lake Street Dive, with a whole lot of beautiful photo opportunities. Pity.
But Asheville was a rager of a weekend, and it took me a short nap and a couple beers at home to recuperate before heading to the Tabernacle. The boys came out on stage surprisingly early this night, Adam even commented, “Look at that clock. So punctual. Early even.” Unfortunately for me, I was still enjoying Atlanta traffic while these four guys known as YMSB started the show with “Raleigh and Spencer”. Atlanta is famous for several things: Coca-Cola, a big airport, Ted Turner, and…. Traffic, to name a few. Well… to name most. Guess which one of these I was enjoying while Ben sang “Ain’t No Way of Knowing”? That’s right. Traffic. While the other, more punctual, Kinfolk enjoyed themselves and danced to “Another Day”, I was just walking into the venue. I made my way to the dungeon they kept Brian in and said my “hellos”, talked about how early they must have started, and ran into some friends in line at the restroom who had also just showed up. We talked about how early they must have started.
Soon though, Dave’s sweet, sweet voice brought me back to the top and in the crowd for “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”. And finally I was where I was supposed to be; up front, rail spot, surrounded by friends, just in time for “Pretty Daughter”. Everyone likes a good murder ballad, but I love 'em!! My favorite part of "Pretty Daughter" is when Jeff tells the audience to “unleash hell”. That’s when I unleash hell.
A short pause as the guys gathered their bearings, then dove into “Straight Line”. I’ve really been digging all the new stuff these guys have been putting out lately and this one is no exception. Same goes for “Pass This Way”, which Dave sang next. I love Adam and Dave’s harmonizing in this one, and the sound in the Tabby is INCREDIBLE. The solos in this one seemed to echo throughout the entire place as the energy built and built, one after the other Dave, Jeff, and Adam’s playing filled the room, capped off by more Adam and Dave harmonizing, this time with the roar of a crowd no longer able to hold their energy in. A pause for applause, and Jeff would dedicate the next one, “Red Rocking Chair”, to Jason Carter, who up until last night had been with them on Winter Tour. And we all sure did miss him, especially on this bluegrass number, which received another energetic roar of applause. Another new one, “Lonesome Letter” was next, which slowed things down, but still kept the energy high. Much like the sound, the energy in the Tabby is INCREDIBLE!
And as Jeff slowly plucked, the energy built with every note. As the notes turned into a recognizable “Traffic Jam” the crowd was ready for it, applauding to the beat, some not to the beat, as the intro built and built. Errbody love a good "Traffic Jam". This one was a roller coaster of a "Traffic Jam", coming to a steady, slow pace, which quickly took off into “After Midnight”; again, energy. They finished it off with the last verse of “Traffic Jam” and just like that they were gone. And everyone had to pee……..
Good thing the restrooms at the Tabby are INCREDIBLE. But seriously though, there’s like a million of them.
Back to the rail and second set would take off just as hot as the first set left off, with “Kentucky Mandolin”. "Kentucky" came to a huge end followed by a rolling of reverb and fuzz. The fuzz would turn into “East Nashville Easter”, which always makes me very happy. There is no better fist pump/air hump song. Only two songs into the second set and these guys were killin it. I’ve always said it. Yonder at the Tabby is INCREDIBLE. And they sure were proving me right tonight. Commence fist pumping. Dave solo: commence air humping. The crowd blew up after this one, “Thank you folks and welcome back.” Wow what a welcome.
Some good ol' Yonder stage banter, and Dave took off into the Danny Barnes number “Goin Where They Do Not Know My Name”, to the delight of the crowd. Another fast-ass number, my feet were gonna feel this tomorrow, but it’s always worth it. Benny Galloway lives in Georgia these days, and he was somewhere at the show, as Dave said, “Hey Burle, we’re gonna play one of your songs.” The song would be “Winds of Wyoming”. Good thing, cause the best cure for sore feet from dancing too much, is to dance harder. The next song was Burle’s request, and it was a good one. “Northern Song” really, really made me miss Jason Carter, though. Either way, I love when they play this song.
The Tabernacle has a very large stage, with a very large backdrop; it’s a big place. And the lights set-up is pretty sweet. And we all know that Ted Atwell is the f*cking man; what I’m trying to say is, the lights at the Tabby were INCREDIBLE tonight. "Northern Song" is one of those songs that always really showcases Mr. Atwell’s skills that we’ve all come to love. It also showcased a ridiculous banjo solo. Dave at the Tabby is INCREDIBLE!
These guys were on fire tonight. Could it get any better? Of course. How much? A lot. “King Ebenezer” always puts a smile on my face and a boogie in my feet. The first time I saw Yonder at the Tabby they played "King Eb". And you know what? It was INCREDIBLE. Much like tonight’s. Only this one was better. INCREDIBLE-ER. Adam is awesome. They need to keep that guy. Hines is awesome too. Keep him. This "King Eb" was killer, this second set was killer. "King Ebenezer" would come to a slower pace, and flow right into “Fingerprint”.
“Are you ready?” asked Adam… Boom! “Fastball”. That song goes by quick. Up next was “Left Me in a Hole”, to the delight of drunken audience members. Sing along time. Still, the crowd at a Yonder Tabby show is INCREDIBLE.
The band would take a breath after this one, but the crowd would cheer on and on, until the band started up “Snow on the Pines”. Man. Oh. Man. Only one word could describe this show. You know what it is. Amazing… Or INCREDIBLE. Several words I guess could describe this show, but those are two good ones. "Snow" was just as good as ever, and one of the best things about “Snow on the Pines” is you know it’s usually going to be sandwiched with something good. Tonight was no exception. It included lots of pedal, lots of Dave, lots of Adam, Jeff banter, all the good stuff, and then melted into “Sand”. They played the pants off this one and melted right back into “Snow”. These guys are INCREDIBLE. The energy at this point was at full capacity, the roof was beginning to shake. And then... “Boatman”. Now the floor was literally shaking. Everyone was moving, singing, screaming, dancing, jumping. For a moment I had a vision of the floor caving in, and everyone falling to the basement, Brian looking on in amazement at the crowd of injured hippies in front of him. But instead everyone danced on… safely.
What a show. They thanked the crowd and walked off. The entire place was electric. The crowd never stopped until they returned onstage. The Tomahawk Chop was even going on for a while. Ben never grabbed his bass for the first one, so I was expecting “Holdin”, and they obliged. A good song to meditate on what had just went down tonight. An amazing two sets. Amazing energy. And still a little more to come. Dave was All-Star of the night, tearing it up again during "Holdin". Still not finished, more fast-ass bluegrass was next as “Mental Breakdown” kept the crowd moving. Still not ready to go home, the crowd cheered for more, and we got it. Being at the Tabernacle, it was only appropriate to end it with some gospel, and “Jesus on the Mainline” was the perfect number to close out this night.
So what did we learn here? There is nothing more INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE than Yonder Mountain String Band at The Tabernacle in good ol' Atlanta Georgia.
Written by Eric Martin; with photos by Eric Martin and Dorothy St.Claire
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